Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Tomb, Temple, Machine and Self: The Social Construction of the Body

Anthony Synnott
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 79-110
DOI: 10.2307/591202
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/591202
Page Count: 32
  • More info
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Tomb, Temple, Machine and Self: The Social Construction of the Body
Preview not available

Abstract

The body is socially constructed; and in this paper we explore the various and ever-changing constructions of the body, and thus of the embodied self, from the Greeks to the present. The one word, body, may therefore signify very different realities and perceptions of reality; and we consider briefly how and why these meanings changed. Plato believed the body was a 'tomb', Paul said it was the 'temple' of the Holy Spirit, the Stoic philosopher Epictetus taught that it was a 'corpse'. Christians believed, and believe, that the body is not only physical, but also spiritual and mystical, and many believed it was an allegory of church, state and family. Some said it was cosmic: one with the planets and the constellations. Descartes wrote that the body is a 'machine', and this definition has underpinned biomedicine to this day; but Sartre said that the body is the self. In sum, the body has no intrinsic meaning. Populations create their own meanings, and thus their own bodies; but how they create, and then change them, and why, reflects the social body.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[79]
    [79]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
80
    80
  • Thumbnail: Page 
81
    81
  • Thumbnail: Page 
82
    82
  • Thumbnail: Page 
83
    83
  • Thumbnail: Page 
84
    84
  • Thumbnail: Page 
85
    85
  • Thumbnail: Page 
86
    86
  • Thumbnail: Page 
87
    87
  • Thumbnail: Page 
88
    88
  • Thumbnail: Page 
89
    89
  • Thumbnail: Page 
90
    90
  • Thumbnail: Page 
91
    91
  • Thumbnail: Page 
92
    92
  • Thumbnail: Page 
93
    93
  • Thumbnail: Page 
94
    94
  • Thumbnail: Page 
95
    95
  • Thumbnail: Page 
96
    96
  • Thumbnail: Page 
97
    97
  • Thumbnail: Page 
98
    98
  • Thumbnail: Page 
99
    99
  • Thumbnail: Page 
100
    100
  • Thumbnail: Page 
101
    101
  • Thumbnail: Page 
102
    102
  • Thumbnail: Page 
103
    103
  • Thumbnail: Page 
104
    104
  • Thumbnail: Page 
105
    105
  • Thumbnail: Page 
106
    106
  • Thumbnail: Page 
107
    107
  • Thumbnail: Page 
108
    108
  • Thumbnail: Page 
109
    109
  • Thumbnail: Page 
110
    110